One of the unintended consequences to sustained success is unreasonable expectations, particularly from fans who become accustomed to winning. The Patriots, three-time Super Bowl champs since the 2001 season, annually deal with these expectations. But after a 3-3 start, the doubters are out early. There's even been the "Has Tom Brady lost his magic?" column that we see every time the Patriots' future Hall of Fame quarterback shows signs that he might be human.
One of the biggest criticism's of the 2012 team has been its inability to hold on to fourth-quarter leads. In fact, Sunday's overtime victory over the Jets was the first time all season that New England won a game decided by one score.
On Monday, Brady made his weekly appearance on Boston's WEEI to discuss the team's struggles to put away opponents.
“Well, we're trying to do it," he said via the Boston Herald. "I don't think you just flip a switch. I wish it were that easy, and maybe there were times when it did look that easy. Maybe we just spoiled some people in the meantime because it's hard to win, man. It's hard to win."
It's easy to get spoiled when the Pats have had double-digit wins in 10 of the last 11 years, which just so happens to coincide with Brady's arrival in the starting lineup. So why has it suddenly become so tough to close teams out when New England just steamrolled opponents for most of this century, particularly the 18-1 2007 season?
"We had a supreme level of talent, and we played extremely well from week to week," Brady said. "We had some of our best -- it was one of those years where everything worked. The result of the season was nothing. We lost. The result of a 14-2 season a few seasons ago, we lost. The result of a 13-3 season last year, we lost. We're only in it for one thing, and it's to be the one team at the end of the year that's happy about how the year went, but that's a long ways from now. We have a long time to get better and work hard and try to learn from our mistakes. I'm glad when you win. You can learn from your mistakes, too, because there are plenty of mistakes for us to learn from."
Yes, the Pats have a long way to go. And yet, they're atop their division where they'll likely remain for the next two months. And come January, they'll no doubt be one of the teams still standing because, well, that's what they always do.
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